2014 Year In Review

December 31, 2014

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There are so many things that occurred during the course of 2014, I wanted to mention a few things that stand out in my mind.

• The San Francisco Giants winning their third World Series in five years
• The pitching of Madison Bumgarner during the post season—no one has ever had such a low earned run average (ERA) in the post season
• Mo’ne Davis and her victory in the Little League World Series
• The passing of Robin Williams and seeing what an incredible, generous, multi-dimensional talent he represented
• The tragedies suffered by Malaysia Airline and AsiaAir
• The rise and horror ISIS represents in the Middle East
• The horror in Syria
• The police and the harsh treatment of some of our citizens and the citizen protests across the nation
• The U.S. Secret Service troubles
• The Republican landslide in the 2014 mid-term elections and what that might mean for the gridlock that has plagued Congress
• Dell World 2014 and seeing how Dell has been unleashed by going private
• The retreat of gasoline prices in the second half of this year and the economic impact it is having on nations
• The San Francisco 49ers letting one of the best coaches in football go because the owner and general manager “couldn’t figure out how to make it work” between the three of them
• My dad’s recovery from heart surgery and actions he took to alleviate sciatica pain that had compromised his life for over 10 years
• My wife’s commitment to her mother the past 8 years—her mother is now in a home and my wife is recovering from her 24/7 caregiving efforts
• The outstanding support I received from Microsoft to resolve an Office 365 challenge

I’m sure I’ve omitted some important things on my list that are on yours. I welcome your comments.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting, http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2014 Dave Gardner

Photo courtesy of Dan Moyle of Flickr

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Microsoft Office 365 Support Earns an “A+” From Me

December 29, 2014

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I want to share an absolutely stellar report about the support I recently received from Microsoft for their Office 365 product line.

I had tried a couple of different versions of Office 365 this past summer and finally decided it was time to make a commitment to Office 365.

I was having difficulties getting the applications to work under my new license. I searched the knowledge base and could find nothing that seemed appropriate for my situation. I suspected earlier trials may be conspiring against me. After struggling for perhaps an hour, I found a phone number for support.

I didn’t want to call the phone number. I had heard horror stories over the years about people unable to get the support they needed from Microsoft. Yet, I had this deep feeling that if I didn’t call, I’d have no chance of resolving my issues.

Reluctantly, I called the number. A polite woman I suspect was the Philippines took my information and transferred me to a technical support agent in what I later learned was Mumbai, India. We Americans have all heard about challenges dealing with India tech support—I was concerned but proceeded.

I had a great customer experience. The Mumbai agent committed to getting me through my issue and, I want to tell you, she did just that. The call took probably 90 minutes but she wanted to stay with me to make sure we truly had the technical issues resolved.

I shared my excitement for my support experience with a colleague and, being a techy like me, he, too, seemed surprised at my experience.

If I have a future issue, I have a person to work with as I have her contact details. I’m to email her and she will get back to me. There’s no time limit on this.

This is the kind of support that every company should strive to deliver. Great job, Microsoft!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2014 Dave Gardner


Owners Triggered 49ers 2014 Season of Despair

December 23, 2014

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A lot of things happened on the way to this “not-to-be” Superbowl quest year:

  • Distractions associated with legal matters of 3 defensive players
  • Injuries galore both offensively and defensively
  • Constant rumors and press innuendo that Coach Harbaugh was in his final year of coaching the team
  • 49ers player didn’t exhibit passion or enthusiasm for the opportunity to play
  • Quarterback Kaepernick (Kap) seemed to not be himself all year
  • Receivers dropped a lot of passes; a lot of passes were poorly thrown
  • Impact players in prior years seemed to have fewer opportunities to be impact players this season
  • Kap’s running game was pretty much non-existent until Game 15
  • 49ers scored no touchdowns in the 4th quarter for the first 14 games of the season—so much for “come-from-behind” victories
  • Lack of support for the team and coaches on Thanksgiving night after a loss—owners apologized to fans for poor performance against Seattle Seahawks

To win, you have to believe. At some point, the 49ers stopped believing. Where does the problem lie?

  • It’s not with Harbaugh—he’s a one of the best coaches in the NFL
  • It may lie with offensive coordinator, Greg Roman. It’s hard to support him when the offense struggled so hard all season to put points on the board
  • It’s not with the players—the 49ers have a lot of talent albeit the injuries were substantial this season
  • It’s not with the new $1.2 billion Levi’s Stadium

The owners have fostered uncertainty and doubt about Harbaugh all season long. The lack of synergy and seamlessness between Harbaugh and team ownership contributed to this losing season. Who wants to work for a owner who second guesses you? Who wants to give their all for an owner who berates the team?

The San Francisco 49ers face an owner leadership issue, not a talent issue. The ownership’s lack of support for Harbaugh knocked Harbaugh and the team out of its center and derailed their ability to feel balanced and comfortable in playing the game. There were too many times this year when, after the team fell behind, I had no confidence that the team could execute a “come-from-behind” victory. It’s as though they didn’t have the will to do something for themselves, their coach or the owners.

For the fans hoping Harbaugh is gone, be careful what you wish for. He may be gone because he is no longer willing to work for the owners. Most people leave jobs because of their managers, not because of the job itself.

We don’t know what’s been said behind closed doors. We do know what has not been said. I don’t recall the owners voicing unequivocal support for Harbaugh all year. That’s a huge problem and a good reason for Harbaugh to leave the team. Instead, they hung him out to dry. He had to succeed or fail on his own while the owners sat in their luxury suite grousing all the way. That’s not a formula for winning.

I hope the 49er’s owners come to their senses and keep Jim Harbaugh. And, get some counseling and leadership training alone the way.

What do you think?

Dave Gardner

© 2014 Dave Gardner

Photo courtesy of Intel Free Press on Flickr


The Winner’s Mindset

December 22, 2014

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The San Francisco 49ers football team has had a rough year, missing the playoffs for the first time after 3 consecutive years. A reporter asked a 49er player, “What’s it like to have two meaningless games left on the schedule?”

“I’ve been in that situation before,” Joe Staley said. “It sucks. This is not fun. This is my life. This is what I put all my work into. I don’t show up on Sunday and hope it goes well.”

This is the mindset of a winner, the mindset of an entrepreneur. Winning is the raison d’etre. The temporary pain of losing won’t overshadow and the dominate the desire for winning.

Here’s to accelerating your growth through change.

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Photo Courtesy of Kevin Dooley on Flickr

Thought for the week:

“Defeat is a state of mind; no one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.” – Bruce Lee
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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
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Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2014 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive! To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.


Can You Trust The Process?

December 15, 2014

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“Hold the vision. Trust the process.” – Source Unknown (heard through Michael Brass via Google+)

How many times have we been told to “trust the process?” Much of what constitutes “customer experience” centers around “the process.”

Too often, we find we can’t trust the process:

  • Business systems, processes and practices fail to meet the essential needs of the business and its customers
  • Companies fail to do the right thing when the opportunity presents itself
  • A country confronts evil with more evil in the form of torture in spite of the fact our stated vision is we do not torture

Where do process breakdowns start? It can start with a weak vision. But, more often than not, the breakdown occurs when someone believes that the vision can be sacrificed due to exigent circumstances. That typically undermines not only the process but the vision for the process.

My best practice is to drive the process faster when it needs to go faster, not subvert the process. If the elements of a process are intentional and appropriate, it’s important to preserve process integrity. If something must happen in an hour, there’s a way to do that without undermining the essential process. That’s my vision and key guiding principle.

If your company has processes that can’t be trusted, what are you going to do about it? Get on it? Or, look the other way? Which approach will accelerate your growth?

Photo Courtesy of Moyan Brenn on Flickr

Thought for the week:

“Success is not a matter of mastering subtle, sophisticated theory but rather of embracing common sense with uncommon levels of discipline and persistence.” – Patrick Lencioni (heard though Kimberly Wiefling)
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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2014 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive! To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.


Getting Configurable Product Orders Right

December 1, 2014

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A reader wrote: “My company has configurable products and we are having problems getting the right parts delivered to support installation of the customers’ orders. What ideas do you have to resolve this?”

The first question I would ask is did the process for shipping custom, configurable orders ever work well? If you answer “yes,” then you need to ask yourself “what changed?” If you answer “no,” then it would be clear you never had a working process and that is your starting point.

If something in the process changed, you need to take action to bring the process back into compliance so it works properly and is repeatable.

If nothing changed, you need to create and follow a process that ensures you are shipping the right parts to complete the order.

If the answer you receive is, “it’s too hard to do it right,” then I encourage you to look at the problem through the eyes of your customers and/or dealers. If your customers and/or dealers are experiencing challenges satisfying the customer the first time, that negatively impacts your brand reputation.

When order execution goes poorly, people talk about it. If you don’t believe that, just look at Yelp, Facebook or Twitter to see how brand reputations become tarnished. Companies delivering a poor customer experience aren’t long for this world.

Finally, you may need to innovate your current process to meet the needs of your business if variety and complexity has gone beyond the capabilities of your current systems and processes. This is how you accelerate growth.

Photo Courtesy of John Hritz on Flickr

Thought for the week:

Heard through @coryedwards
81: The % of US consumers that say that it is important that brands make my life easier.#DigitalDopamine from @razorfish
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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2014 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive! To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.